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This revealing account of one the world's most enigmatic and affluent ruling dynasties—by one of its own sons—is a timely argument for democracy in a paradoxical society. Meshal Al-Sabah concedes that there are more democratic mechanisms in place in Kuwait than in other Gulf states, but maintains that the monarchy is not genuinely democratic. Political domination is safeguarded through the distribution of oil revenues as welfare and economic benefits, effectively buying the support or acquiescence of the Kuwaiti people.
Yet Al-Sabah also makes the case for Kuwait as a country with vast potential, in which necessary reforms from the top down can encourage more democratic and transparent government and enable Kuwait to become an example to other states in the region. Through freedom of speech, civil rights, and political accountability, Al-Sabah argues, a more equitable and successful society can be achieved.
He further contends that the present generation is the first to consider real quality of life beyond simply raising material living standards, requiring a focus on long-term solutions to inequality and other issues.
Dr. Meshal Al-Sabah directs the Washington, DC, desk at the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Department of the Americas. He holds an MA in International Relations from the University of Chicago, and was awarded a Master in Public Administration from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at the Department of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies, King's College, London.